Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden by Philippa Dowding | ARC Review

Another dose to my fun read craving..  To say the truth, if I had written this review just after reading this book, I would have give it 5 stars.  But, now...

Original Title: The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden
Author: Philippa Dowding
Publisher: Dundurn
Release Date: February 18th 2014 
Source: Review copy from publisher
Genre: Middle Grade

"This morning, I woke up on the ceiling ..."

So begins the strange story of Gwendolyn Golden. One perfectly ordinary day and for no explicable reason, she wakes up floating around her room like one of her little brother’s Batman balloons.

Puberty is weird enough. Everyone already thinks she’s an oddball with anger issues because her father vanished in a mysterious storm one night when she was six. Then there are the false rumours about her being a drug addict. On top of all that, now she’s a flying freak.

How can she tell her best friend, or her mother? How can she live her life? After Gwendolyn almost dies one night flying too high and too fast, help arrives from the most unexpected place. And stranger still? She’s not alone.


Gwendolyn can fly.  All of a sudden, she wakes up in the ceiling and she don't know how to face this. Is this normal when puberty hits?  She feels already weird in the school, and is confused when this new ability shows up.  Should she even tell this to her mother and her only best friend?

But, there were other people aware already about her abilities, although she has no idea how.  And she soon learns she is a Night Flyer and there are people out to help her and things that will destroy her as well, just like they did her dad.  Dealing with emotional problems of losing her dad and new found Flyer status, Gwendolyn is faced with situations, that she isn't ready to handle yet.

When I read the first few lines of the book, I couldn't pick another book.  It's what a good middle grade book can be.

The easiness of the plot and the characters pulled me right in.  The author could have done a better job at expanding the story though.

The inner voice of Gwen was hilarious and amusing to listen.  The Midnight Summer’s party was brought out well and I could just imagine the scene.  And the scenes where she is scared of her flying right in the middle of a class or during a friend's party made me laugh.  All these are the good parts.

The bad parts are that Gwen never seem to grow up.  Even at the end of the book, I still feel like she is a kid; but that's okay, I can wait if she grows in the next novel at least.  And the character development is not full.  So, the readers cannot get more involved with them.

The writing has some problems.  Considering this is the first book in the series, there could have been more explanations, instead of simple questions and answer format type manual.  I want to know more about the fantasy part.  It might have been exciting.

Gwendolyn is your regular kid, with anger management issues and problems with fitting in at school. Gwen hasn't grown much and don't act like a eighth grader; but come on, not all kids have the maturity to act right when a situation presents itself.  And losing her dad might have everything to do with that.

I liked all the characters including the sweet shop and Gwen's sister and brother, but there is not a complete development of the characters' world.  It makes it difficult for the readers to sustain them in memory.

Strengths: I liked it maybe because at recent times, I crave for more fun-filled easy reads than emotional ones.  And I suppose that is the main strength.

Weakness: The slow pace and the improper character development may bore some of the audience.

Final Verdict:
Gwen's adventures is not your Harry Potter or Percy Jackson style adventures; but more like her dealing with life and her Flyer abilities.  And if you like children's book, I will definitey recommend it to you.  Adults, who are not into children's books, may find problem in liking it as much as I did.  But, at least, you could read it to your kids. :)  I had a good time with a middle grade novel after a long time.

Note: There is one place where Gwen's crush tries to kiss her; but nothing happens.

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